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The Great Elm stood at the center of the Boston-Common until February 15, 1876. The earliest maps of the area only showed three trees, one of which was the Great Elm. The other two trees, one of which was most likely the famed Liberty Tree, had been lost long before the Great Elm finally fell in the nineteenth century. Up to that point, the elm symbolized the Boston Common’s landscape since—an early advocate for urban improvement asserted—the figure represented the finest example of “the favorite ornamental tree among us.” The Great Elm’s popularity inspired broader environmental efforts within the region. Consequently, planters believed that they “must plant [elms and oaks] for posterity,” implicitly hoping that their efforts would result in a similar majestic outcome. These ancillary planting efforts elevated the popularity of the largest tree in the area, the Great Elm.

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